Price, rating and specs based on the EF-S 18-55mm III kit
Canon EOS cameras have an enviable reputation, but they’re known more for their high quality than low prices. As such, it was a bit of a surprise to find the latest model available for £350 – by far the lowest ever launch price for as EOS camera. Now, nearly a year on, the body and kit lens price has dropped to just £279 from Jessops making the 1200D an enticing option for the starter photographer.
Providing a low-price option makes sense, though. Draw in first-time SLR buyers and the chances are they might buy lenses and accessories and therefore stay loyal to the brand for decades to come, possibly upgrading to better-equipped camera bodies as their skills advance. Buying a DSLR often means buying into an ecosystem, but is the 1200D a bargain or a false economy?
Canon EOS 1200D Handling and Features
Canon rarely rocks the boat with its designs, and the 1200D is hard to distinguish from its predecessor, the Canon 1100D. A few buttons have been redesigned and the screen is up from 2.7in to 3in, but externally, that’s about it. The controls are straightforward and elegant, with a generous allocation of labelled, single-function buttons, plus a Q button to access key settings without having to delve into the main menu. However, it’s confusing that adjustments are immediate when using the Q button, but are discarded when accessed via a labelled button unless the Set button is pushed to confirm.
The 1200D also resembles the pricier Canon EOS 700D, although it lacks the 700D’s articulated touchscreen. Its screen has a relatively low 460,000-dot resolution, but we don’t find this to be much of a problem. It’s still perfectly adequate for manual focus in live view mode, thanks to the ability to magnify the image by up to 10x.
The main upgrades are on the inside. The 18-megapixel sensor and 1080p video mode are significant improvements on the 1100D’s 12 megapixels and 720p video, and match the 700D’s specifications. Other features remain unchanged. Its autofocus sensor has nine points but only the centre point is cross-type for increased sensitivity. It also uses the same optical viewfinder as the 1100D with a 0.8x magnification, which is slightly smaller than the 700D’s 0.85x magnification. It’s fitted with Canon’s DIGIC 4 rather than the latest DIGIC 5 processor, which means that chromatic aberrations aren’t corrected automatically for JPEGs. Meanwhile, its 3fps continuous shooting speed appears to be deliberately hobbled – the EOS 600D used the same 18-megapixel sensor and DIGIC 4 processor and managed 4fps.
The best we could get from the 1200D in our tests was 2.9fps. Continuous shooting lasted indefinitely when shooting JPEGs and pointing the camera at a relatively sparse subject. Shooting a more complex subject – which gives the JPEG processing engine more work to do – made performance drop to 1.4fps after 13 frames. In RAW mode, continuous shooting fell to 0.7fps after six frames. Not everyone will feel the urge to fire off dozens of photos in quick succession, but this isn’t the camera for those who do.
Canon EOS 1200D Companion App
As with all basic SLRs, the 1200D lacks built-in Wi-Fi, but yet it still has it’s own app. The Canon EOS Companion is available for both Android and iOS and teaches you basic photographic concepts, such as depth-of-field composition. It looks smart, has helpful information for novices and shows you the exact controls you need to adjust on the 1200D to get the effects discussed.
The Companion App is better than a paper manual, helping you troubleshoot common problems, plus you’re more far likely to carry it with you